Sex ed for teenagers is a famously knotty subject, which explains why Pavel Astakhov, Russia’s children’s ombudsman, wants to eschew sex ed classes in favor of literature courses. “It is unacceptable to allow things that could corrupt children,” he said in a television interview. “The best sex education that exists is Russian literature.” (No word yet on what he thinks of Crime and Punishment.) (h/t The Paris Review)
“Baldwin understood that if you are going to say something important about the world it is best if you try to say it beautifully. I don’t mean like picking flowers or writing on fancy stationery. I mean how you say it actually makes it a more meaningful piece of writing. I am going to push that further. It makes it a truer piece of writing. What you are saying is: ‘Can I make somebody feel this in a deeper way?’ That was what I was obsessed with.” Over at The Guardian, Ta-Nehisi Coates talks about the success of Between the World and Me and being inspired by his father. Pair with our own Sonya Chung’s essay on David Brooks and Ta-Nehisi Coates.
There’s a pedestrian bridge spanning Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis that features a John Ashbery poem written on its steel beams. This is a fabulous slideshow of photos showing the poem. Via been thinking.
“While pressure from Amazon forced Borders out of business in 2011, indie bookstores staged an unexpected comeback. Between 2009 and 2015, the ABA reported a 35% growth in the number of independent booksellers, from 1,651 stores to 2,227.” Professor Ryan Raffaelli read this surprising statistic and decided to study what exactly independent bookstores were doing in order to reinvent themselves and thrive. He found it has to do with indies embracing the three Cs; community, curation and convening. The full report will be released in 2018 but you can glimpse a preview here. Three cheers for indies!
Stay up until 4am reading that new release? Dread your early alarm after a night spent with a book? Maybe you’re just on Flaubert‘s schedule. Or, if you find it easy to fall asleep before midnight and enjoy early mornings, perhaps you’re running on Victor Hugo time. New York Magazine has compiled an infographic of the sleeping habits of geniuses, and the good news is that no matter when you fall asleep and wake up, someone brilliant has more or less kept your same schedule. So take heart, late-night readers and early risers. We’re all in good company.
“In a bewildering new trend, it is young rationalist bloggers in Bangladesh who have emerged as the primary target of Islamic extremists.” K. Anis Ahmed writes about the brutal murders of bloggers at the front of the secular movement who have demanded punishment for those committing genocide. Pair with an essay from Hasan Altaf about how celebrating literature can be a form a protest.